The 1995-1996 Acadia hockey Axemen captured Acadia’s
second CIS hockey title in four years, with the ability to both
steamroll the opposition and, when necessary, win the close games
Despite a formidable lineup recruited by head coach Tom Coolen, the Axemen program was thrown into disarray when Coolen left shortly before training camp to join the coaching staff of the Saint John Flames.
In stepped head coach Mark Hanneman and associate coach Mike Alcoe, former assistants under Coolen who, along with assistant Darren Burns, led the talented Axemen squad all the way to the CIS title.
“We didn’t try to change a whole lot of things,” Hanneman said after the season. “We just tried to put our stamp on the team. The players believed in us and in our system, and believed in themselves.”
The 1995-1996 Axemen had just about everything – offense from AUS scoring champion Jason Weaver, Greg Clancy, Wade Whitten and Christian Skoryna, solid defense from all-Canadians Sean O’Reilly and Paul Doherty and great goaltending from rookie Trevor Amundrud.
Their skill and ability was greatly appreciated by enthusiastic crowds who flocked to Acadia Arena, even for exhibition games, to watch them play.
The Axemen compiled a 19-6-1 regular season record, then capped a 5-2 playoff run by edging the UPEI Panthers 7-6 in the deciding game of the conference final - a close series in which all three games went to overtime - with Paul Doherty scoring the series-winning goal.
Acadia was in fine shape entering the CIS nationals in Toronto, and showed the rest of the country what they were made of, edging Trois Rivieres 4-3 in semifinal action and Waterloo 3-2 in the national final.
Despite many similarities to the 1993 national champions (Sean O’Reilly was the only player to play on both teams), coach Hanneman felt the 1996 team shouldn’t be compared to the 1993 team, or to any other Axemen team.
“This is a special group of individuals who believed in each other and made a mutual commitment to success,” he said at the time. “They played real ‘Axemen hockey’ – work hard at both ends of the ice, maintain discipline and the proper focus, and make the best of your chances.”
The Tom Coolen – coached hockey Axemen of 1992-93 recorded an impressive 22-2-2 record during the regular season, thus tying the forty-six point Atlantic Conference record set by Moncton in 1988-89.
Individually team captain, George Dupont won the league’s scoring title with fifty-seven points and Derek Kletzel was named the Conference’s top rookie. Dupont was joined on the league’s All-Star team by teammates Denis Sproxton, Kevin Knopp and Norm Batherson.
In conference playoff action the Axemen followed up an opening game loss to the University of Cape Breton, by posting consecutive wins over the Capers, Dalhousie and U.N.B. to win the Halifax Herald Trophy.
On March 19, 1993 at Toronto’s Varsity Arena, the Axemen led by All-Canadian Coach, Tom Coolen and CIAU first-team All-Star George Dupont, handily defeated Alberta Golden Bears, the defending champs, 9-4, to gain a spot in the national finals.
At Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, the Axemen in an awesome display in all aspects of the game, blasted the University of Toronto, 12-1, to gain for Acadia its first ever CIAU Men’s Hockey title.
In front of a record crowd of 7,800 fans, the Axemen received an outstanding performance from player-of-the-game and the tournament’s most valuable player, George Dupont, who was joined on the All-Star team by teammates Denis Sproxton, Jeff MacLeod, Kevin Knopp and Sean Rowe.
It is indeed a pleasure to welcome for induction to the Acadia Sports Hall of Fame, coaches staff and players of the 1992-93 Hockey Axemen – the CIAU 1992-93 champions.
1990 Women's Soccer
One of the greatest sports stories in Atlantic Inter-collegiate athletics was recorded by the Laura Sanders -coached women's soccer squads that from '84 to '94 were either winners of serious challengers for the AUAA crown, actually winning six consecutive Conference titles from 1986 to 1991.
It was, however, during the '90-'91 academic year that the Axettes gained national distinction, winning for their university its first CIAU women's soccer title.
Entering the AUAA playoffs ranked no.1 in the country, the Axettes defeated Mt.Allison 1-0 in semi-final action. Playing against St. Mary's for the Conference title, the Valley-based stars edged their rivals, 1-0, as Marjean Leighton scored the goal and Alison Tuton recorded her fourteenth shutout of the season.
Subsequently at Raymond Field against Sir Wilfrid Laurier in semi-final action for the coveted national title, the Axettes won on the penalty kicks. Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time -courtesy of a late Cindy Montgomerie goal, the AUAA champs won 5-4 on sudden-death penalty kicks as Dara Moore notched the winner.
For National championship play, the Acadia squad travelled west to meet the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. On Sunday, November 17th, at the Todd Field in Vancouver the Axettes and Thunderbirds battled through regulation time and two 15 minute overtime sessions before the Axettes won 4-2 on penalty kicks.
Dara Moore registered the winner while Marjean Leighton, Conference all-star, Kryan Pinfold and Cindy Montgomerie, the latter the Conference's rookie-of-the-year, scored the others.
Defensively, all Canadian net minder and later to be named Acadia's female athlete of the year, Alison Tuton, was sensational between the posts. On that memorable occasion, Bridget Anakin was named winner of the Baldursson Memorial Award as the game's MVP. Wendi Wells was voted second team all-Canadian, while Coach Laura Sanders, several times honoured as the AUAA's top coach, and was named CIAU's coach-of -the-year.
Others to make monumental contributions to the club that season were assistant coach Janice Cossar , Amber MacNeil, June Saunders, Denise Aucoin, Kim Hill, Marlee MacDonald, Kim MacQuarrie, Cathy McAuley, Andrea Milne, Jodie Silds, Heidi Stayish, Kristin Pinfold, Claire Sarginson, Susan Power, therapists Sheri Cunningham and Nancy Witty and manager Angela Fraser.
1981 Football Team:
The 1981 football season represented the twenty-fifth anniversary of the game on the Acadia campus. Consequently, on the afternoon of October 17th, at Raymond Field, the University celebrated this event as the John Huard-coached Axemen defeated St. Mary’s Huskies, 13-3. Appropriately enough, Don MacVicar who had scored the first-ever Axemen touchdown back in ’56, performed the ceremonial kick-off. On the field of action, Jim DiRenzo and Quentin Tynes starred offensively for the victorious squad.
Following a very successful season in Conference play, and a 34-11 playoff win over Mt. Allison, the Axemen qualified for their sixth Atlantic Bowl appearance.
In combat against the Queen’s Golden Bears, Larry Priestnall, who was destined to be named the game’s best player and winner of the prestigious Don Loney trophy, was outstanding as he gained 220 yards on twenty-seven carries, while scoring three touchdowns. Quentin Tynes ran for 69 yards in the game and scored a touchdown. Quarterback Steve Repic and Jim DiRenzo, who converted all Acadia majors while adding a 36-yard field goal and two singles, were other Axemen offensive stars.
In subsequent action against the Alberta Golden Bears for the CIAU title, the Huard-directed charges staged a tremendous comeback to win their second National football title in three years. Entering the contest as definite underdogs, the Axemen delighted their followers by posting a last-minute 18-12 triumph.
In this exciting contest, the Alberta team struck first, registering a 27 yard field goal with only a minute plus remaining in the first quarter. The Axemen countered late in the second quarter with a Jim DiRenzo field goal that was quickly followed by a 64 yard Steve Repic to Hubert Walsh touchdown pass with only 1:18 remaining in the half.
In the second half, the Golden Bears overcame an 11-3 first half deficit as they scored a 66 yard touchdown with ten minutes to play.
Then with 2:35 remaining, Reg Gilmour kicked a 22 yard field attempt wide but through the end zone, giving Alberta an apparent winning point. The Axemen, however, in one of their most courageous comebacks ever, put together a touchdown march as Repic completed four consecutive passes, three of which went to Don Clow for a total of 52 yards, allowing the Atlantic Conference champs to advance to the Alberta twenty-one.
Halifax native Quentin Tynes then added the final action to a dramatic script, running the ball for 19 yards and then capping off his heroics with a two yard touchdown run –giving the Axemen an 18-12 margin and ultimate victory.
Fittingly, Steve Repic captured the College Bowl M.V.P. and top player-of-the-game award. Named Ali-Canadians at the CIAU Banquet were Stuart MacLean, Tom Johnson and Chris Rhora, while John Huard received the Frank Tindal trophy as the top coach in Canadian Intercollegiate football.
What an honour it is to welcome back for induction to Acadia’s Sports Hall of Fame the coaches and players of the ’81 football team – victors in one of the most dramatic-ever CIAU championship contests.
1979 Football Team
The 1979 football season at Acadia was highlighted by the appearance of John Huard as the Axemen's Head Coach. A native of Maine, who had enjoyed tremendous success in North American pro football leagues, he was destined to become one of Canadian Intercollegiate football's most highly-rated mentors.
Huard and his Axemen opened their home season with a 41-14 victory over St. Mary's as Jed Palmacci's running game drew the plaudits of the fans. Henry Sareault, Larry Priestnall, Mark Haley and Hubert Walsh were also strong offensively, while Bob Stracina, returning to the Acadia line-up following a season of ailments in 1978, collected seventeen points.
In a subsequent 77-6 win over Mt. Allison, Walsh with five touch downs, shared the limelight with PaImacci and quarterbacks Steve Repic and Mike Cosgrove.
In a 31-25 overtime loss to St. F .X. in Antigonish, Palmacci, Stracina, Sareault and Donnie Ross were the prominent Axemen.
Huard's charges finished the Conference's regular schedule with a 6-1 record.
In league playoff action against the always competitive St. F .X. squad, the Axemen silenced all would-be critics by posting a convincing 18-0 triumph.
In Atlantic Bowl action, the Axemen defeated the University of Alberta Golden Bears by a lopsided score of 27-3, thus allowing the Wolfville-based squad its third College Bowl appearance in four years.
The Huard-coached Atlantic Conference champs then travelled to Toronto to participate against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in the prestigious College Bowl. There, in front of some 19,000 fans, the Acadia club put on one of their finest performances of the season to defeat the Mustangs 34-12. This indeed was poetic justice for the Axemen who, in '77 at the University of Toronto Varsity Stadium, had dropped a 48-15 verdict to the Western Ontario champs.
In winning their first-ever CIAU football title, three Axemen were signalled out for special praise. Wide receiver Don Ross captured the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game's most valuable player, while quarterback Mike Cosgrove was voted the most valuable offensive player and Dave Bemis received recognition as the top defensive performer in the contest.
In a post-game interview, however, Coach Huard summed up his team's performance best by saying: "I knew what I wanted to do when I came up here, and the players knew what they could do. We did it together."
What an honor it is to welcome back to Acadia for induction to its Sports Hall of Fame, the coaches and players who brought to the University its first-ever CIAU football championship.
1977-78 Women's Swim Team
The '77-'78 women's swim team represents the apex of a marvellous era for this sport at Acadia. From the years 1975 to 1980, Acadia's women swimmers won six consecutive AUAA championships. In the process, they established 31 Conference records and were undefeated in league meets from '75 to '79. The academic years, '76-'77 and '77-'78, saw national championships come to Acadia with Jack Scholz at the helm of both of these teams. His talent as a coach was recognized as he was awarded the prestigious CIAU Coach of the Year Award in 1978.
Following a national title in '77, the '77 -'78 season was another glorious one for Scholz and his Axettes. On record-breaking dives and swims by Judy Bailey, Roberta Thomson, Wendy Stevens, Mary Ellen McDonald, and Maureen Scott, the team easily won the AUAA Conference. As a result of their fine performances, twelve qualified for the Nationals.
Mary Ellen McDonald established AUAA records in both the 100 and 200 metre backstroke events. Bailey accumulated 393 points on the three-metre springboard and Stevens shattered the previous barrier in a butterfly event. Roberta Thomson cut the then existing mark in the 400 metre individual medley and was named the AUAA Swimmer of the Year.
At the Nationals in Vancouver and attended by Thomson, Bailey, Stevens, Marjorie MacDonald, Mary Ellen McDonald, Mareen and Jill Taylor, Pam Johnson, Cathy Kennedy, Holly Reardon, Penney Gaul, and Maureen Scott, the girls again finished first.
In collecting 291 points to easily outdistance Alberta, Roberta Thomson led the way with three second-place finishes: in the 100 metre breast stroke and 200 and 400 metre individual medley. Mary Ellen MacDonald came up with a second-place finish in the 100 metre backstroke and a fourth in the 200 metre backstroke. Acadia's 400 metre medley relay team of MacDonald, Stevens, Thomson, and Gaul won that event and set anew national record in the process.
In accepting the National Coach of the Year Award, Jack Scholz commented that "the team scored in every event and every team member scored. Our depth and versatility was the key to success."
1976-77 Women's Swim Team
The '76-'77 women's swim team ranked No.1 in the nation, certainly lived up to all expectations, winning the A.U.A.A. championship held in Moncton, New Brunswick and later the C.I.A.U. meet staged in Etobicoke, Ontario.
The women easily captured their third consecutive Conference title. The season accomplishments were a total team effort in sweeping almost every event in the A.U.A.A., a feat that has not been equalled to date in league competition.
Team members Patricia Maybank, Janice Smith, Cathy Maxwell, Kathy Hall, and Captain Anne Harding contributed to this major accomplishment in the A.U.A.A. Conference. Jill Taylor, Holly LeReverend, Reenie Taylor, Penney Gaul, Roberta Thomson, Wendy Stevens and Margi MacLeod were particularly outstanding in Moncton.
In winning the title, several Conference records were set. Individually, for example, Holly LeReverend established six new times and was part of a record-breaking relay team. Jill Taylor established three individual and two relays best-ever marks, while Roberta Thomson and Wendy Stevens each had record-breaking times in a number of individual events and a single relay competition.
As a result of their stellar feats at the A.U.A.A. meet, Jill Taylor, Penney Gaul, Reenie Taylor, Colla MacDonald, Marjorie MacDonald, Wendy Stevens,. Cathy Kennedy, Judy Bailey ,0 Roberta Thomson, Holly LeReverend, Margi MacLeod and Helen Baird qualified for the Nationals held on March 5 and 6 in Etobicoke.
At this Canadian championship meet, the Jack Scholz-coached Axettes accumulated a total of 326 points to win the highly coveted C.I.A.U. championship. The University of Alberta and the University of Toronto with 239 and 228 points, finished second and third respectively.
On that historic occasion, Holly LeReverend, who subsequently was named Acadia's Female Athlete of the Year, established a Canadian intercollegiate record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:13.97. In the 400 medley relay, Holly, Jill Taylor, Wendy Stevens and Peonney Gaul set another best-ever time, finishing the, distance with a mark of 4:06.76.
In summary, during that memorable '76-'77 season when Jack Scholz, destined to be named C.I.A.U. Coach of the Year in 19.78, and his sixteen talented swimmers captured national honours, a total often Acadia records were established.
This team laid the foundation for the women's swim team of 1977-78 to repeat as A.U.A.A. and C.I.A.U. champions.
1976-77 Men's Basketball
Following three frustrating years of almost winning the National title, the Dick Hunt-coached Axemen played brilliant basketball as they defeated University of Prince Edward Island, Waterloo University, and Lakehead University by respective scores of 88- 70, 65-63, and 72-63 to win the Canadian Intercollegiate championship during the spring of '77.
The Axemen finished with an outstanding record of 25 wins and 5 losses, including twenty-three wins in their last twenty-four games.
Team and individual honours gained by the Axemen were many. The club won the Acadia Invitational, the A.U.A.A. league and playoff championships, and, of course, the C.I.A.U. title. Individually, Ed Shannon was the A.U.A.A.'s most valuable player; Alvin Jessamy was named to the Conference's first-team all-star squad; Doug Roberts was placed on the league's second all-star team; Gordie West won the Don Seaman Sportsmanship Award; Alvin Jessamy was chosen All-Canadian and was named to the First Team AII-Star Squad at the National Basketball Tournament and Dick Hunt won Coach-of-the-Year honours.
Senior Ed Shannon from Worcester, Mass. amassed outstanding point totals during the season, including 48 points and 23 rebounds in one A.U.A.A. play off game. Junior Alvin Jessamy from New York finished the season with a 20 points per game average and was the outstanding offensive rebounder in the country. Doug Roberts, a freshman from Maine, became the team's third leading scorer with a 14-point per game average. Sackville, Nova Scotia star Robbie Upshaw was an outstanding starting guard and increased his floor-shooting percentage to 41 percent. South Shore star Gordie West was the other starting guard. Being an outstanding clutch performer, he made the big play in nearly every crucial spot that contributed to many Axemen victories.
On the bench rookie Ted Upshaw, from nearby Windsor, became a vital force as the season progressed as his soft shooting touch and tremendous rebounding ability gave the Axemen one of the most powerful bench strengths in Canadian basketball. Kentville star Tony Acker provided outstanding defensive muscle, while AI Oliver, Eric Skinner, Bruce Toigo, John Archibald, Steve Johnson, Peter Leighton, Norm Whynot and Bruce Hunt each had many fine moments throughout the campaigns.
In the championship game at the Halifax Forum before an excited crowd of 5,000 fans, the Axemen dominated Lakehead Nor'Westers to win the title. For Coach Dick Hunt and his assistants Don Crosby and John Townsend, therapist Peter Justason and team manager Elizabeth Raaymakers, a fitting climax to a job that was very well done.
1970-71 Men's Basketball
The '70-71 men's basketball team was the second Acadia squad to win the National Championship. Guided by coaches Gib Chapman and Dr. Jim Logue, the Axemen lost but two of their thirty-two encounters. They went through the league schedule undefeated -losing only to Simon Fraser and Hofstra University in early-season tournament play. The season was a total team effort.
At the Nationals held at Acadia's War Memorial Gymnasium, the Axemen qualified for play in the championship game by defeating the Loyola Warriors and the Windsor Lancers by respective scores of 59-42 and 84-55.
In the championship game against the University of Manitoba Bisons, the Axemen established from the opening whistle a very strong defense. By the ten-minute mark of the first half, the team was ahead, 18-8. Forced to shoot from outside, the Bisons' Bob Town and Ross Wedlake were held at bay.
Taking a 30-15 lead into the second half, the Axemen continued to frustrate the Bisons who consequently ran into serious foul difficulties.
In the ultimate 72-48 triumph, Kentville-born Gary Folker did a fantastic job on the boards, while being successful in all eight attempts from the foul line. He and Co-captain Steve Pound, the latter destined to graduate as the Axemen's all-time leading scorer, each collected ten points in the championship game.
Peter Phipps, who was the star in the team's victory over Windsor, was tremendous as team quarterback. Jerome "Bruiser" McGee, who provided much of the muscle under the boards, scored thirteen points. Yet, the star among the stars was the team's co-captain Rick Eaton who, in his final home-game went out with a flourish, scoring twenty-seven points.
For his efforts, Rick was named the tournament's MVP and became a unanimous choice for selection to the All-Canadian Intercollegiate Basketball Team. As they had done all season, Paul Talbot, Jon Beausang, Tom Staines, Tom Farrington, Terry Condon, Freeman Schofield, Fred Moczulski, as well as team manager Willis Porter and trainer, the late Harvey Mills all made outstanding contributions to the Axemen's championship victories.
1964-65 Men's Basketball
The 1964-65 Axemen's basketball team brought great distinction to their university, conference and province by winning the national title.
Initially, Coach Stu Aberdeen saw the return of seasoned veterans for what looked like a great year. But injuries riddled the starting five. Fourteen or fifteen men had tried out for the squad, but when the dust had finally settled, only Dave Rode, Andy Kranack, Steve Konchalski, Peter Pike, Jim Clark, Scott Lumsden, Brian Heaney, and Ward White remained under the tutelage of Coach Aberdeen and his assistant, Dr. Jim Logue.
Each Conference game was a struggle in itself as several times Coach Aberdeen had only six men dressed to play. Highlighting these early encounters was a January contest against St.Mary's in Halifax when Brian Heaney, in only his second game as a regular, scored 28 points in a 4-point Acadia victory. On another occasion, Heaney's 15 points in the last 12 minutes gave the Axemen a single point triumph over St.F.X. and a first- place position in the Conference. In another big game that season, Dave Rode accumulated 52 points in a 122-41 win over Mt.Allison.
Disposing of St.F.X. in playoff action that season, the Axemen gained the right to compete in the Nationals, hosted in Halifax at the St.Pat's gymnasium. The scoreboard at the final buzzer indicated an 83-79 victory for the Axemen over the Carleton Ravens. The stage was then set for the grand finale -the Aberdeen men to do battle against the Windsor Lancers. The contest, a cliff hanger all the way, saw the lead change hands some 17 times. An overtime surge nailed the National Championship for Acadia at 92-83 and allowed the Valley-based university to become the first-ever Nova Scotia school to win the coveted national title. This accomplishment earned them a spot in Nova Scotia's Sports Hall of Fame.
Steve Konchalski established several Tournament records. His 41 points and 17 field goals eclipsed Warren Sutton's single game highs. His totals of 69 points and 30 field goals "bested" other Sutton achievements. Dave Rode grabbed 23 rebounds to surpass U.B.C's Joe Cook's mark by 6. Brian Heaney joined the Tournament's MVP, Steve Konchalski, on the all-star team.